Struggling Ravens looking to overcome injuries, losses
(AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
By TODD KARPOVICH
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Coach John Harbaugh won't use the Baltimore Ravens' mounting injuries as an excuse for their recent woes.
Nonetheless, the depleted roster has taken a toll on the team.
The Ravens, who have 15 players on injured reserve, have lost four of their past five games, including a 24-16 setback to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Baltimore (3-4) trails first-place Pittsburgh (5-2) by two games and has already lost to the Steelers at home.
Harbaugh estimates the Ravens need at least 10 wins to to avoid missing the postseason for the fourth time in five years. That challenge could be daunting.
"We're already in unchartered territory," Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. "I don't know how many other teams have had this many injuries on offense. We'll just see how it plays out. We have a lot of tough guys. It's about mental toughness. You have to put everything aside, ignore the noise and go out there and fight. We have a bunch of guys I know who will do that."
Baltimore has scored one offensive touchdown in the past two games. The Ravens were missing receivers Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) against the Vikings. Fellow veteran receiver Mike Wallace had to leave the game in the first quarter with a potential concussion.
Baltimore is also missing two starters on the offensive line and has been forced to start rookie Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard.
"Reality is what it is. We have to find a way to do what we have to do," Harbaugh said about overcoming the injuries. "We did not turn the ball over and that was a goal in this game. We thought that would give us a chance. We didn't do enough of the other things we need to do to win the game."
Quarterback Joe Flacco has taken much of the criticism for the team's struggles on offense. Over seven games, Flacco has thrown for 1,189 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. His 70.0 passer rating ranks 31st in the league.
Following the loss to the Vikings, Flacco said the team cannot use the injuries as a reason for the lackluster play. The status for Wallace, Maclin and Perriman for Thursday night is uncertain, so other players need to have larger role and take advantage of the opportunity.
"It's tough to talk about how tough it is," Flacco said. "It is what it is. We have to go out there and we have to play and that's why we have 53 guys on the roster that are active every week so that everybody gets a chance to step out and make it happen. It obviously isn't the best situation, but we've got to make it work."
Baltimore was expected to get a boost with defensive tackle Brandon Williams back in the lineup after missing the previous four games with a foot injury. The Ravens had allowed 169.5 yards per game and went 1-3 with Williams out. Minnesota still managed 169 rushing yards on 33 carries.
Williams said the team did show some overall improvement against the run. Baltimore faces another tough matchup this week against Miami running back Jay Ajayi, who is ranked seventh in the NFL with 442 yards on 125 carries.
"Obviously, the Ravens defense is historical here," Williams said. "We know that it comes down to us getting out there and keeping offenses at bay. At the same time, I am proud of my guys."
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Updated October 23, 2017